You open a bottle of your favorite white wine ready to enjoy the delicious flavor. You take a deep breath to smell the full aroma. What do you smell? It depends how you chilled the wine, according to a recent workshop that I attended at Michigan By The Bottle tasting room. My sister and I recently attended the “Chill or Not to Chill” wine workshop at the Royal Oak wine-tasting room to learn about the proper temps and ways to chill a bottle of wine (read about the last wine workshop I attended there). Mostly, I learned that I’ve been chilling my wine wrong for ages!
I learned that winemakers of course intend to get the most aroma and flavor out of their wines, which means they intend to serve at the proper temp to encourage these two things to occur. If you chill a white wine too much, for example, the aroma and flavor are muted.
For this workshop, we were provided two variations of three different types of wines – one glass was chilled in a regular refrigerator and the other glass was chilled in a wine refrigerator (typically a warmer temperature than a household refrigerator). Note that a wine refrigerator is different than a beer refrigerator, which is a colder temperature too. I could not believe the difference in these wines! The aroma was much fuller and the taste so much stronger when chilled at the proper temperature. I was especially struck by the difference in the white wines, such as a Rieslig and Pinot blanc. Having side by side samples of a glass of refrigerator chilled wine and a glass of wine refrigerator chilled wine was so noticeable. Nothing was distinct on the refrigerator chilled wine, while the aroma and flavors popped on the other wine. I can’t believe I never noticed these differences before now!
Red wines should be served at room temperature. However, if you really prefer to drink all of your wine at a cool temp, then store your red wines in the basement or put in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes before serving. You can chill the remainder of the red in the refrigerator to slow the oxidation process, which will extend the life of the wine (bring it to room temp before serving). You can also store the bottle on the counter for typically one or two days.
A suggested temperature for a light-bodied white wine (Pinot blanc) is 45-50 degrees, full-bodied white (chardonnay) is 50-55 degrees and a sweet white (sweet Riesling, Moscato) is 43-47 degrees. A medium-bodied red can be served around 55 degrees, light-bodied red (Pinot noir) is 50-55 degrees and full-bodied red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz) is 60 degrees.
For those of you who might use an ice cube to chill your wine faster (ahem, Mom), it was highly recommended not to do as it dilutes the wine’s flavor, body, aroma, and overall intent. A guest at the workshop said he uses an ice bucket with half ice and half cold water to chill his bottle of wine in a few hours. Heck, we’ve stuck bottles in the snow during January for a quick cool down and it worked great!
Most wines are meant to be drank within a year. Reds, such as Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, age better, and Rieslings age very well (frankly, my Riesling bottles usually don’t last long in my house, let alone a year!).
I love my stemless wine glasses. But these type of glasses make you hold the glass filled with wine, where the warmth of your hands can start to warm the wine more or less than you want. Duh, I never thought of that!
Overall I learned that it doesn’t hurt to chill wines, it just depends what process you use to do this. You don’t have to run out to buy a special wine refrigerator (right…yes, I keep telling myself this!). There are several viable options for cooling your bottle, as I listed here. Do you have other suggestions?
I ended up finding another good, new wine during the workshop – Chateau de Leelanau’s Cherry Wine. Delicious!
Another great learning experience! I definitely will head back to this local wine resource in the future.
*This is not a paid endorsement for Michigan By The Bottle. I went and purchased on my own. I enjoyed the event so want to share with my readers.